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Bikes built for commuting

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 09:58 10/04/2014
Alton Street Cycles.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
BIKING OPTIONS: Olwen Murphy and Dylan Couper outside their new shop, Alton Street Cycles.

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The wheels of Nelson's burgeoning bicycle revolution have taken a Danish turn, courtesy of Alton St Cycles which opened at the weekend.

Olwen Murphy and Dylan Couper have spent 18 months setting up the business which specialises in selling Danish commuter bikes and specialty bags and clothes designed and made for year-round conditions.

Dylan has taken on the role of store barista in the shop that is as much an espresso destination as it is a gallery for artisan cycles.

Olwen's interest in the style of commuter bikes, which has not changed in decades, was triggered by her visits to Denmark.

"My daughter lived in Copenhagen and I saw how they made it so easy there, because of the type of bike people rode.

"They're designed so people can ride to work in a suit or skirt. The upright style of riding has not changed, but the bikes now include modern components such as internal gearing and locking systems," Olwen says.

Copenhagen has more than 390 kilometres of designated bike lanes and is now officially the first "Bike City in the World".

Its strong cycling culture was born from environmental movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Danish Cyclists Federation said that in the 1960s, cars were threatening to displace bicycles in the main Danish cities but the oil crisis, the environmental movement and a couple of controversial road projects reversed the trend.

Olwen says the steel-framed, durable bikes retail for about $2395, which would provide owners with a "bike for life".

She says the bikes include features that make them easy to ride in all weather, while wearing working clothes such as suits and dresses. Their balloon tyres mean they are also good for the cycle trails being developed around Nelson and Tasman.

She was encouraged enough by interest in her own bike sourced through Trade Me to set up the business.

"I wanted a bike I could go to work on, one that would stop my skirt going into the spokes and one that I could do my shopping with - whatever made it easy to keep my car at home."

Olwen, who also runs a barber shop in Buxton Sq, rides her bike to work from Stoke each day, rain or shine. She also stocks a line of "elegant outerwear" including the Rainwrap by Irish mother-daughter design team Georgia in Dublin, plus English cycling capes and waterproof leggings.

Alton St Cycles also sells components such as handlebars, bells, seats and baskets. It also offers a service helping people to restore old bikes. They aim to help source parts people might need.

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The shop is open only at weekends at this stage, Olwen says.

- Nelson

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